Art21 Sarah Sze

I can’t remember how I stumbled onto this video about artist Sarah Sze and her sculpture for the High Line Park in New York City. The video is not about photography, strictly speaking. I do think there’s interesting information presented that’s useful to the amateur photographer.

Every time I learn something new about art, my photography gets a little better. Learning more about art gives you a better vocabulary to express yourself within the realm of photography.

In this video they mention some foundation concepts like negative space and one point perspective. Both of these concepts are foundations of visualization and useful for constructing good photographs.

At about 5 minutes into the video Sze talks about the challenges of photographing one of her installations, and she distinguishes the difference between simply documenting her work through photography and telling the story of her art work. She then discusses how photographing her High Line installation flattens it out and presents it as something entirely different than the work as it appears in three dimensional space.

This video also examines the conceptual nature of art. As they follow Sarah Sze through the evolution of the project, you come to understand that the artist’s vision is conceptual and informed by many variables: the space she has to work with, and the scientific research provided by the Cornell University Ornithology Lab, for example.

Photography can be conceptual. Rather than simply recording scenes you encounter with your camera, you can develop fresh and unique concepts for your own photographic projects. Developing original concepts will steer you away from overused cliché elements in photography.

Your camera can do more than simply record your experiences. Subtle changes in composition and selective focus, for example, can change the message a photo conveys. If you care to push the envelope a little further, the subject of your photo does not necessarily have to be the same as the photo’s content. The work of art Sarah Sze created for installation at the High Line is not simply a bird feeder, and your photos don’t have to be simple recordings of places in time.

Another video about this sculpture by Sarah Sze, called Still Life with Path (Model for Habitat) on YouTube: if your interested.

Sam Fenstermacher